The Public Defender's office has existed only since 1989. It was created to provide representation so that people accused of a crime or juvenile delinquent offenses will have an attorney when they could not otherwise afford one.
Right to an Attorney
Any person charged with a criminal or juvenile delinquent offense who could be placed either in jail or juvenile detention if found guilty has a right to an attorney. If the accused person feels that he or she cannot afford an attorney, he or she may request an appointed attorney. If the court determines that the accused person cannot afford to hire an attorney, the Public Defender's office will normally be appointed to represent that person.
The Public Defender's office handles only cases in which a citizen is at risk of being placed in custody. The Public Defender's office can represent citizens only after being appointed to do so by a Blount County court.